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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

What is Your Retirement Housing Preference?

UPDATE AT ABOUT 10AM PACIFIC TIME: This is the most interesting thread I've read here in a long time. I'm fascinated by all the different choices, reasons and the thoughtfulness you are putting into this. Please keep the comments coming. We all can learn a lot from one another on this topic.


Last week we discussed location choices and the finances of retirement living. It was interesting to read how many who commented left an impression that elders and boomers coming up on retirement soon are all doing fine financially.

Today, let's talk about the type of housing we are interested in for our retirement.

Although I can't prove it, it is my sense that a large number of our parents and grandparents worked hard to pay off the mortgages on the homes where they raised their children and, barring the need for full-time care, stayed there until they died.

Some may have moved to Florida, Arizona or their personal equivalent but there were not a lot of retirement living choices beyond Sun City-type, 55-plus communities. Today there are many more.

In fact, there are so many that I can't possibly cover them all here so let's go with the most common new kind of choices that do not involve the need for caregiving.

NORCs: These are neighborhoods most commonly of condominiums or single family homes that, unplanned, hold a significantly high number of retired people.

Cohousing: Communities that are planned, shared and owned by the residents that may include common facilities like kitchen, dining room, child care, laundry, offices, etc. They are usually multi-generational with common interests, often involving environmentally sustainable living.

Age-Restricted Communities are usually segregated by age: 50-plus, 55-plus, 60-plus are the most common. Sometimes children – grandchildren, for example - may visit for only a limited number of days per year.

Active Adult Communities: These, too, are usually age restricted to 50-plus, etc. of privately owned homes and/or condominiums that also provide recreational facilities such as golf courses, gyms, tennis courts, swimming pools, etc.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities: CCRCs for short are a hybrid idea for life-long living. Residents can move from independent living in apartments or individual homes to assisted living to nursing care as needed.

Shared Housing is a growing phenomenon of two or more unrelated retired people living together in a single family home. Think Golden Girl although there is an uptick recently in elders who own their homes taking in college students or unemployed who can't otherwise afford housing on their own. New matchmaking services that include background checks are helping like-minded people connect.

Common Identity Communities: Quite new are retirement communities with people who share an interest or identity: LGBT elders, musicians, unions members, a specific religious faith, etc.

RV-ers: Speaking of common identity communities, a couple of TGB readers have commented in the past that when they need a respite from travel, there is a specific community of RVers to which they return to live until the next time they head out. (Please do enlighten us further, RV-ers.)

The Village Movement: I've written about how I am working with a group of people in my town to start a Village – a group of people living independently in their homes who band together to provide the services they and one another need help with as they grow older.

These are only some of the possibilities. Personally, had I not been forced out of New York City, I would have stayed in my Greenwich Village apartment until I die (or need full-time care). Maybe I would have attempted to create a Village in my part of Greenwich Village.

As it turned out, I chose a medium-sized condominium community that, unbeknownst to me when I bought, is a NORC. The most planning I did was for affordability (e.g. condo to share big costs rather than a single-family home) and continued ease of living as the normal declines of old age increase in coming years (e.g. no stairs).

If I were doing it now, I suspect I would choose differently but I am not uncomfortable here and I have little patience for regret. I am fine where I am.

Now, what about you? I am curious how others approach retirement living arrangements, and the reasons are probably as varied as individuals themselves.

How did – or will – you choose how to live in your retirement? Does it come easily? How much did you or have you planned? How has it worked out so far?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: No Blue Hair, Please


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

This is a question that I am starting to tackle for myself. I know that I will eventually sell my house in the country. I can take care of it right now, but I don't want to have to for the rest of my life. I want to concentrate on other things. But I do want to keep the community. So I have put my family and friends on notice: when I move they all go with me.

We had no idea of the number of choices available when we started looking. We wanted to be closer to family, we didn't want to wait until it was too late to make our own choices (as did my mother and my wife's cousin), and a CCRC in a middlin' sized university town near the kids seemed a good choice at the time. Still does, though I do miss my old home in the Intermountain West.

We plan to stay in our single family home in a mid-size university town. It has been heartbreaking to watch family and friends leave their homes after becoming disabled after a fall or illness. So, when we had an opportunity to build a house, we included many accessibility features. Because our house is new, we hope that maintenance costs will be minimal for many years. In lieu of paying condo fees, we plan to pay others to do what we can't do as we get older. We are fortunate to be able to do this.

My husband and I first built a cabin in the mountains thinking this would be ideal when we retired, and meanwhile we would travel there for weekends.

We found out that was not going to work when we retired(a bit boring full time and too far from civilization) as our main home, and so we decided to check out San Diego and buy a condo there.

With all this going on in our last years of work, we downsized to a condo downtown in Phoenix(also unbeknownst to us a NORC).

My husband became ill and died the year of his retirement so I am thankfully in the condo which is accessible to both neighbors and stores and transportation.

When one is a couple one never considers what life would entail if suddenly the other of you is not there.

I think someone is looking after me because I am in a great place to go forward. I don't have to sell it and I can travel and come and go.

We are working--hard!--at this choice right now. We live in a 55-plus apartment complex and have great neighbors but we moved to this city only for work, which is now ending.

My goals: closeness to shopping and transportation, easy maintenance, great appliances, and minimal driving. My husband's goal (age 71) is yet another job. We'll see who "wins" but it would be ideal if we both do.

i plan to stay in my one-story SF house. If you know of a Villages movement in the Indianapolis area, please connect me. thanks.

My husband is almost 80 and I'm almost 71. We chose to downsize to a first floor, no stairs two bedroom condo almost 6 years ago. No physical conditions required it then, but they have arrive in force now. Thank goodness for no stairs!

We're part of a NORC and didn't even realize it when we bought the place. Others are older than we are and have blazed the trails to transportation and enrichment venues that are nearby.

So far, so good.

I own my home (key to financial well-being I feel) and am within a couple of miles of all my necessities including a major hospital. Although I would have preferred to move out into the country upon retirement, the amenities of modern living finally convinced me that in the end those conveniences would probably win out over the peace, quiet and serenity of which I was in pursuit. Septic tanks, well water and lack of other city services scared me off – I’m a wimp!

But like many others who live alone I am left with an unknown future and seemingly even less control over it since I have no idea what I may or may not require toward the end days. Recently there has been a move where some of the elderly have in essence turned their homes into a sort of a care facility. Two or three share a home and hire one full-time care giver or nurse to administer their care. Given the cost of nursing homes I really, really like that idea and the financial aspects of it.

Here locally with regard to that approach there has been debate regarding zoning issues within a residential neighborhood but I think in the end that can be resolved… hopefully. Being a homeowner and over seventy that is certainly a serious option I have to consider – especially from a financial aspect.

After much thought I sold my house and downsized into a small condo. I guess it would be at NORC also. It's three blocks from downtown, ground floor, no stairs except to my storage in the basement. There's a pool. The neighborhood is relatively safe and quiet, I checked it out with our cop shop.

It was remodeled recently with a tiny but very accessible bathroom, walk-in shower, grab bars, pull-out shelving and the like. Everything is close and there is public transportation should I need it. It is less expensive all over than the upkeep on my nearly 100 year old house. I like it and think its a good choice for me.

If I had my choice I would probably favor the Continuing Care Retirement Communities. We have visited a couple of them here in North Texas but the cheapest of them would barely be covered by I and my wife's combined retirement income with nothing left over to travel or for anything else.

I am ready to move away from home ownership and all that entails and would like nothing more than to get up and do what I want to do without worrying about home maintenance issues and keeping it clean. The CCRC's we checked out have a cleaning service and offer many opportunities to stay active. But it is clearly out of our price range.

There are apartments for seniors that offer a lot of similar services as the CCRC's but most of your expenses like food and utilities are part of one's expenses.

Overall though, after talking to people who have lived in both we think we can make it just fine in those gated senior apartments, provided they have vacancies available when we are ready to move

One group ignored here, and on most blogs, is low-income housing for seniors who cannot afford any of the alternatives you have listed here. I guess most people don't want to think about old people who are also quite poor, but then it is probably beyond the scope of most blogs to include the huge numbers of old and poor. You may be interested in the following article that describes the difficulty for poor seniors in SF -- http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Low-income-seniors-struggle-in-S-F-3816995.php

Had I found the perfect one-story condo at the time, I'd have bought it instead of this little one-story house. I wanted but could not afford to move to Anthem, a gorgeous 55+ community near here. Neighbors here appear to be mostly younger couples who work. Everything I need is within easy driving distance but nothing is within walking distance.

Now I wrestle with whether to stay here and have to remodel the bathroom to put in a walk-in shower, and likely the kitchen in a few years, or move yet again (if I can find the right place), and start another new mortgage. I have a yard now, which I must pay someone to maintain, and enjoy having a dog; I doubt I could keep her if I moved.

No matter where you go there you are. Trite, yes but it's should be looked at. Being from Jersey I know many folks who've moved to Gods waiting room FLA. they love it until you ask how's the summers and without exception they say,"it's a living hell". Being from the northeast I think maybe Nebraska would be nice but common sense says I'd need a tether on for the day prairie madness kicked in and I just walked off. For now I'm glad that's just one small problem I have but it must be addressed. Why anyone would want to live in NYC is beyond me but that's just me.

I know the words "Assisted Living" makes some people cringe, and with good cause. However, sometimes they are the only option. With ALF's, as with everything else, you get what you pay for (sometimes). My advice to those of you who are considering such a situation is ask questions and get every promise in writing. Also, speak to as many of the residents who live there to find out what they really think of the place. You will find that many ALF's are better than you think or worse than you imagined.
As someone who has both lived by myself, lived in a 55 plus community, a nursing home and now, an ALF, I have thoughts about all of of them. Feel free to contact me.

I moved into an "active adult community" upon my retirement 3 years ago. While I am happy here, I have found that there are limitations to growing older in such a community. For example, when I called an ambulance for my since deceased wife, I was appalled to learn that the house was designed such that a gurney couldn't be gotten into the bedroom. Now paying more attention, I realize that these homes are not designed for aging in place. Nor is there public transportation, assisted living or any of the myriad of other things that might be needed as we age. In general, I feel that residents who become frail here will likely be faced with moving again. While I'm quite happy right now, I was expecting this to be my final move. And I'm not really sure that will pan out. So, if being able to age in place is important to anyone, I would suggest they research thoroughly before moving.

RV Park Information.....
There are many varieties of RV Parks available to those who wish to have a "Home Park" to take a break
from travel or to "hang up the keys" permanently.
There are parks that allow only 55+ ages with no children under 18 permitted except for limited visits with "grands." Some parks
are "Co-Ops" the residents
jointly own the park and elect a Board of Directors to run the place and hire office and outside managers.
There are other Parks that have lots for lease, lots for sale, and lots for rent with no age or child restrictions.
Currently my home base is a Co-Op. I am considering moving to AZ to a Park where
there are lots to rent, buy or lease. I plan to rent and
look around for alternatives
where care will be available
eventually.
As for living in a "stix & brix" home again.... No thanks! My only home for 30 years has been a Motor Home of one size or another. Recently I bought a huge 5th Wheel with 3 slide outs that make the width of the trailer
much greater. It is much like a studio apartment....
My intent was to "hang up the keys"... However the familiar
pangs of "hitch itch" have enveloped me. I am now considering the move mentioned above. Rather than
an eventual move to a nursing home or other type of care facility, I am thinking of
a cruise ship where care is apparently available. When I
die, just throw me overboard!

Maybe other RV'rs will chime in with additional information.

I seriously considered a CCRC when I gave up driving (my choice because of a health problem that causes dizziness.) I finally decided to give the decision a year and, several years later, here I am still in my rural farmhouse which I love. Groceries are delivered by a small nearby store and I've found several people to drive for me when I have doctor/dentist appointments. At 77 I'm still an independent cuss who loves to garden and doesn't want to give this up.

The same CCRC, has started a program they call "Without Walls" which hires local people to provide home help (not nursing care) so people can stay in their homes longer. I took advantage of that last summer when I had outpatient surgery and was very pleased with it.

The time may come when I need full-time care and I'm fortunate to have such a good CCRC nearby.

My Mother was independent, still driving at 85, sick for only three days, before she died. Maybe I'll be so lucky. Who knows.

Carol

We still live in our own home in a small town that has no public transportation. Before my husband's illness we discussed moving into a CCRC within a few years as the problem of transportation as well as of home maintenance was sure to become a major issue.
Unfortunately my husband became seriously ill over a year ago and is now at home on hospice care. It is not possible to know how much more time he has but certainly not likely to be more than 6-9 months. I hope he can stay here until his death as is his wish but it will depend upon how debilitated he becomes and how much I can do for him.
After his death I will get the house ready to sell - and clean it out - most likely that will take a year or so - and then I hope to move into a CCRC - and I am now visiting some. One of Ronni's favorite blogger lives in one I plan to visit within the next couple of weeks.
My take on some of the CCRCs is that many are too expensive with luxury amenities that I do not want or need - sort of like a beached luxury cruise ship. While I can afford to pay the price that is not what I want to do and I know I would be very uncomfortable living where I had to dress for dinner and hang out with the purple hair ladies wearing tweed skirts and twin sets and a pearl neckless. That reminds me too much of my youth. And I am far too frugal for that.
I do not mean to offend any reader who has purple hair -I hope you understand what i mean by that -ie - the country club set - it is just not my style.
I hope to remain in the same general area and do not plan to move to another part of the country despite the tough winter weather. But another winter like this past one may change my mind!

We have a paid-for house on 4 acres and plan on staying. We love the house, the beautiful live oaks, the wildlife and birds and see no reason to leave. When I die, I want to be cremated. I want a gathering of friends and family in the great room telling funny stories about me and then I want them to dig a hole out back, put my ashes in it, plant a tree there and go back to the party. Not moving anywhere.

At this point, we have realized our retirement idea and swapped our Wisconsin place for a modest house in Southern California near one son and his family. We think we're fortunate indeed to have made it this far. We swapped a two story, too large farmhouse at the center of the polar vortex for a roomy one story home in the sun.

Today, as the arthritis in my knee makes me want to whimper, I'm glad we don't have any stairs!

We live in a regular neighborhood, no "adult community" segregation here, and our neighbors are generally nice. I like to hear the children playing nearby. I like having a yard big enough for the dogs who came with us from the farm in Wisconsin.

Mostly, the community aspects of retirement living are not related to our house as much as through our recent affiliation with a local Unitarian fellowship. We've found friends and like-minded people there, people about the same age and older whose company we enjoy. Some of them live in age restricted communities, and most of us share that privileged status of comfortably well off retirees... people able to get along on modest pensions and social security who have housing by dint of having paid for our own homes over the years.

Our house happens to be only a half mile or so from a wonderful "senior center," a facility we visited once and haven't visited since. I think if I was alone, I'd take advantage of the shared meals and company that people find there, but for now it's just not my thing.

I myself can't imagine driving your house all over America on the Interstate highway system. But that's me. I think Shared Housing is a great option for some people, and I like the idea of the Village Movement. As for me, I hope to stay in a mixed-age neighborhood for as long as I can, for the variety and the vitality. The children playing in the street; the ice cream truck in the summer; the couples walking along the sidewalk; the bicycles riding by ... That's life!

The Engineer and I have no plans to move from our smallish one-story house in Seattle. We both drive, and--thanks to cataract surgery last year--I should be able to continue for some time. Fortunately, our house is very near public transportation when we need it.

Based on a FrontLine report and various news accounts, I'm terrified of so-called memory care facilities and wouldn't consider that an option for either of us.

Another concern is proximity to a hospital with a good Emergency Room. Several days ago, The Engineer cut his hand quite badly while doing some jobs around the house. I was able to get him to the ER within minutes, and the care he received was extremely good.

My wife and I purchased our retirement home last year. It is a small 1 story 2 bedroom in Sun Lakes, an active adult/ age restricted community south of Phoenix. We will work a few more years but plan to age in place. We have done some remodeling and will continue with the idea of improving the logistics for our old age.

We love the little house.(It takes us less than 1/2 a day to thoroughly clean the whole place). We have a beautiful back and side yard for outdoor cooking and relaxing. The community has pools, spas,& all sorts of recreations and clubs. We plan to stay as active as we want to be when we finally quit work. It took a good deal of planing and re-evaluating our priorities to downsize, but it has worked well so far.

We even went as far as selling one of our cars and commuting to work together. The money we would have spent on a second car helps pay the mortgage, and leaves us with extra for savings.

I feel for those who have not been fortunate enough to prepare for their eventual retirement. We feel blessed to have weathered the recession with at least our little home and jobs. We know many have been forced into early retirement without time to prepare.

We have been remodeling our little ranch-style home with an eye to the future, including moving laundry facilities up from the basement and widening doorways and putting in a walk-in shower. House is paid for, taxes are reasonable, we're close to stores and the library, there is some limited public transportation in our small town, so we could stay here for years yet. Meanwhile, we are cleaning out our accumulations, organizing and preparing for whatever the future brings. I don't want to be too much of a burden for our children.

We have been retired for 23 yrs. and have had a succession of living experiences. Our first adventure was to buy an ocean cruising catamaran and become "cruisers" for 9 yrs., exploring the East coast, Caribbean, crossing the Atlantic, spending 3 yrs in the Med and returning to the Caribbean and Bahamas.

At that point, realizing our stamina was declining, we sold the boat and bought a 3 brm home in No. Calif, my Native Land. This was fine for 7 yrs. while we cared for Mom and got busy with a community.

Mom died and the lure of far away family plus doubling of our home's value sent us off to Iowa where we had started from. Here we bought a townhome in a NORC. During our Calif. time we'd purchased a small RV so we could scratch the travel itch. We discovered that Iowa winters were now too extreme for us so we've become Winter Texans, going to So.Texas these past 5 yrs. to stay in an RV Park where we rent our space and have many activites to enjoy. Most others are also retirees, and includes many Canadians.

Our Townhouse has always been much too big for us and now stairs are an issue as well. As I started this comment, I had a call from our realtor that we have sold the place! Now for the next adventure.

I will be homeless when the deal closes. My hubby will go to live with his son & DIL near St. Louis where he will stage himself for a future home at a VA facility. I have purchased a share in a 55+ co-op here which won't be finished until this time next year. I have a small motorhome, my Grannymobile, which I plan to live in and take to Texas next Winter. I have 4 daughters who have flat driveways and big hearts.

I'm looking forward to Co-op living. The members are already getting acquainted and talk of helping each other has sprung up. I'm hoping many of the Village concepts can be applied. The only caveat for me now is will my eyesight hang in there. There's dry MD in one eye and wet in the other, for which I see the Retina guy tomorrow. Fingers crossed that treatment will help. Otherwise, I see either Assisted Living or moving in with a daughter as my next option when the lights go out.

My husband and I (75 and 71 respectively) have lived in Greenwich Village for over 30 years, and we can't imagine ever again living anywhere else. We can walk almost everywhere for our daily needs; have great public transportation, entertainment opportunities, and health care when needed. We've had our comfortable co-op apartment long enough that mortgage and maintenance costs are no problem. All our friends are within reach also. It's the ideal location for us.

I have to respond to Madeleine about memory care units. I do a lot of volunteer work in a local memory care unit, and I have been so impressed with the staffing, care, and layout of the unit. I think I saw the same Frontline piece you saw, and I thought it was an unbalanced and biased report. No matter how good the facility, stuff can happen when you serve a population with dementia: you need to safeguard residents but also allow them some autonomy.

Ronni, where can we find more information on the Villages movement? We live in McMinnville and our neighborhood is starting to look like a NORC. we all talk about wanting to stay in our homes.

I sold my single family house 15 years ago. I had a swimming pool that I couldn't use in the daytime because of skin cancers and I was afraid to swim alone at night. The cost and effort to keep it in shape was the deciding factor that drew me to a town house. I have volunteer drivers for my medical appointments and friends who check on me so I hope to be able to stay here until the end of my days.

My biggest problem with being a widowed homeowner has been trouble with finding good maintenance men . Some of them stole from me, others did shoddy work and I ended up with a different handy man each time I needed one trying to find a reliable one. I finally decided that, although they are very expensive, the handy men who are bonded and insured are worth the extra money I have to shell out when something goes wrong.

I do not have stairs and have had grab bars installed in my bathroom. My unit is a 3 BR, 2 bath house and is probably too large for my needs right now, but I have thought about sharing my home with a college student in exchange for some assistance if I become unable to take full care of myself. I enjoy having out of town friends stay and I need the extra room when my family visits so I do not plan to downsize further (be the good Lord willin' and if the creek don't rise).

I do not think communal living would suit me. I have been independent for too many years and no longer suffer fools gladly.

My preference is my cozy but big (1440 sq ft) 3 bedroom/2 bath mobile home in Northern San Diego County, California.

No yard to mow, no mortgage, no snow or ice, just a small lot rent. It's a 55+ mobile home park ... and the quietest, safest, friendliest place I've ever lived. No one bothers me and I don't bother anyone. We just wave and smile when we're out walking our dogs. It's two blocks from some great shopping and a freeway.

I share this home with a lovely lady who is about 10 years younger than I, loves my dog and cat, and is still working. We live in our separate parts of the home, but it's nice to know there is someone there if I need her. And we both love our privacy and want to be alone most of the time. Plus, she chips in half of the costs of running the house ... the lot rent, utilities, etc.

I'm fortunate to have found someone who is this compatible. And it's nice to have someone there who is willing and eager to pet sit when I want to take a trip back East for a week or two, or just go off to roam for a day or two.

I'm living my dream.

We downsized to a first floor condo in Oregon (our home for 30+ years) and a one level 980 sq ft home in Maui. Both were chosen for accessibility and walk-ability BEFORE we needed to. My condo is also NORC (even though I never heard of the term until today!) and since my hubby died about a year ago, I have access to lots of ladies my age and in my situation.

Working great for me!

We live on the west island of Montreal. Our home has a 15,000 square foot property.

I do all the gardening and love it.

So far.

House was paid off years ago. We are 5 minutes from a bus stop.

Walking distance to a small village, library, food store, bank.

We both have cars but we use our senior bus passes for trips downtown.

Our area is a real estate sweet spot with many single seniors living in older bungalows.

But we have to be realistic. If and when we can't handle the work, we will either have to hire people, or move.

The question is where? There is no location better than this one.

None of our friends want to downsize either. We don't trust condos, and we don't want another house.

We like our privacy and hate the idea of being bossed around or having to make small talk around a table.

I keep hoping that something comes along that might suit us, but so far, nothing, and believe me, I have visited enough places to back out the door thankful not to be trapped inside.

That's how I see it. Trapped. Giving up. Letting someone else run your life.

I'd rather be wearing a wooden suit.

Hubby and I relocated to Florida from N.Y. because of weather and our neighborhood in NY was going down the tubes fast. My 30 year old daughter and 4 year old grandson live with us. My daughter cannot afford to live on her own at this time she is single. We have a four bedroom house with a pool. It is much more than I want or need but we are doing the best we can to give our grandson a good quality of life. I think there are many boomers in this situation. I am 65 hubby is 67. We have one car between all of us. Two dogs (why we need a yard). I am hoping that in about 10-15 years, God willing, we can move to a 55+ ground floor apartment that is walking distance to grocery and bank and no longer have to worry about repairs. Our house now is all on one floor. If anything happened to my hubby before that, I would move to a two-bedroom condo and my daughter would have to find an apartment, I would no longer be able to provide housing for her. I sometimes wonder if I would go back to NY where my son lives as he is much more responsible and I could rely on him to be my health care liaison and make decisions should I become unable to. I would not be comfortable relying on my daughter for this. She is a good person but too "flighty" if you know what I mean. All in all it is hard to have any kind of concrete plan in place as one never knows what the future will bring. I just know that I love where I am right now but as circumstances change I will have to adapt. I would never take in a college student, too unsafe in today's world, background check or not. I would have to know the person. I would not mind living in an independent living complex if it were affordable. I guess time will tell. Very interesting dialogue going here. I like questions like this.

None of the above responders chose the option I did. I had an acre of land in suburban Portland, on light rail, close to freeways and shopping, a beautiful piece of land that backed onto a huge park-however my house was 95 years old and literally falling apart around me.
I'm a widow and I always felt the property was an important part of my retirement investment-I held onto it thru divorce, 20 years of single parenting and remarriage at 50 to a wonderful man. We'd planned to rebuild-something I couldn't afford on my own.
I sold my property cheaply to my youngest daughter and s-i-l and we have been going thru the miseries of building on a wetland adjacent piece of property-it's taken 2 years but we start construction next month on a large house for daughters family with a connected apartment of 900 sq ft for me.
As far as I'm concerned this is an ideal set up. I have helped raise my grand daughter since she was born 9 years ago and have lived with my daughter in her small Beaverton house while we began the planning for building a larger one. I do the cooking, shopping and laundry for the entire family-we now live in adjacent apartments down the street from our new homes site. I take Brianna to her gymnastics classes, go on school outings and volunteer at the school while mom and dad work full time-I'm home after school every day-I also do a lot for myself volunteer wise plus take classes at the senior center and yoga at a nearby gym.
I'm quite surprised that, out of 33 responses before me, none had considered the joined family living option. It's a real win win for all of us.

When I moved to Austin I said I would never move again. However, rents are on the rise as Austin is a very desirable place to live and I am on a meager income. I really have no idea what is next for me. I like living in a community with people of all ages. I'm not the typical retiree.

My original plan was to retire a rich old lady with a devoted companion. Living the good life...moving from one fantastic hotel to another. Didn't work out.

Instead I've downsized to a comfortable little apartment, handy to a small park and good bus service. Tho the stairs get a little steeper every year, I'm comfortable here.

As for the future, who knows. Independence is very important to me, and I'm leery of winding up with un-congenial neighbors in a shared environment.

I am hanging on to my small SF apartment as long as I can. So far, I am mobile, independent and involved with art and writing which I love. My doctors are here and I figure that when I get too old to boogie hither and yon, I will call a taxi. Seriously my ability to stay in SF is dependent on my landlord not selling my apartment house - if that goes, I have to rethink everything thing. I also bought long term health care insurance which gives me a certain amount of security. But as we know, this is a very uncertain world.

I am in an age restricted apartment complex. I like renting an apartment. There's a friendly (and mostly competent) handyman to solve problems, the grounds are maintained there are sufficient laundry rooms, a library, a community room that individuals can use by reservation, and a couple of rentable rooms for guests. I'm a little sorry pets are not allowed. Residents are all over 50; it's a fairly large H-shaped building and the residents are varied in age and race and personality. This suits me very nicely.

8 months ago we made the decision to sell our home and move to a place where we could more easily "age in place." Our home had 17 steps from the street level to the front door and while it did not pose a problem for us now we could foresee the possibility of one little thing causing us to be sleeping in the garage! It turned out to be the best decision we ever made. We pulled the equity out of our home and purchased a "manufactured home" (aka mobile home) in a wonderful 55+ community in San Pedro. Our new home is larger in square footage than our previous home. It is all one story...with a small yard and a 180 degree view of the Pacific Ocean from our deck. It is a gated community with many amenities and social activities that we can be as involved in or uninvolved in as we choose. I have a community garden plot, the neighbors are friendly and since we have a 9 hole golf course, we have taken up golf. For now we are very happy here and feel a new lease on life. Our children are close by and it works for us!

I bought my current SF home--a 4-room ranch --10 years ago, at 52, with the idea of aging in place here. I'm thinking of post-work years in two phases: the active retirement phase and the can't-quite-maintain phase. I'm kind of planning for the active retirement; if the day comes that I can't maintain it, it will be senior housing. Depending on when the day comes, I may be looking at gov't housing.
Actually, I would love more info on that. A friend lived in such a unit and was happy with it until they changed it from 55+ to any age, which led to noise and neighbor problems for him.

When I hit 40 I began to give serious thought to retirement. I knew for sure I wanted a house of my own. In my mid 40s I looked around and found a house a few blocks from where we were living. The interest rates were 18% and no one wanted to take a mortgage. We got the house at a price below the appraised value and I am still here. The day we moved in I said I intended to die in this house and I still feel that way. The house was paid for right after I retired thanks to some after tax dollars I was able to put in my 401K. I am 78 as of a couple of weeks ago. I still do all the outside work and gardening including snow removal. If I can not drive, I live 2 blocks from a bus line that will take me most anywhere I want to go within the city. I still work out vigorously twice a week, act as block leader, volunteer at a school in the office, am in remarkably good health so far. Fortunately, I have adequate income unlike many people who are not as fortunate. We satisfied our wanderlust while we were both still healthy so have no big desire to see the world. Many years ago we purchased 60 acres of wooded land an hour and a half drive from home. It has a tiny A-frame cabin with electricity and phone but no running water. It is my getaway spot. I am an introvert who needs a lot of alone time. I would not do well in a more crowded environment. I realized this a long time ago and have planned accordingly. My computer works just fine for keeping in touch with the world. I do have some close friends that I see regularly and others that I talk to by phone. My children and some of my grandchildren are local.
My experiences with his days in the hospital and the rehab facility make me determined never to go there or any other place like that.

The assumption of the question is of having a choice.
Many people I know do not really have a choice. They just go til they can go no further and then it "plays out" according to the circumstances at that time.
I myself had choices, so I wanted to be "ahead of the curve" and I downsized too early. I moved to my Walk-Out Basement with its lovely French Doors and I rented the upstairs. It was ok but too early. In two years I moved back upstairs and rented out my Walk-Out.

I've lived in a single family house for 49 years and expect to stay until carted out. I live one mile from the city center. I have 9 great-grandkids and 7 live where I see them frequently, several of them *the two oldest" often stay with me several days at a time. Having a house with a yard is nice.
I can't imagine ever wanting to live where I could not see them whenever I wished.
I'm getting along in years now 81, where doing yard work is a bit less fun, so it takes longer and, never having been a gardener, I have only grass to worry about.
My eyesight is failing a bit, so I stopped driving and now use public transportation which I actually enjoy. I've occasionally met a seat companion that, like myself, rides to certain stores and we talk about inconsequential things but makes us both feel pleased.
Living in an area where you know many people and your family is reasonably close is a comfort to many, and it is to me.

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